The Holst Singers sing with a spellbinding sense of atmosphere and crystal-clear textures . . . supremely musical
BBC Music Magazine
The Holst Singers are one of Britain’s foremost choirs, described by the BBC as “a leading chorus on the international stage”. With the support of their President, James Bowman, and Musical Director, Stephen Layton, the choir has developed its interest in exploring new and neglected works as well as core choral repertoire. In concert the choir is renowned for dramatic and engaging performances, described by The Times as “interactive concert-going at its most revelatory”.
Recent CD releases include Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols & Saint Nicolas with Allan Clayton, City of London Sinfonia, and the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge; and ‘Ikon II’, the long awaited sequel to ‘Ikon’ (1997), a disc that immediately became a cult classic and a best-seller. ‘Ikon II’ brings together a selection of Russian choral masterpieces in an extraordinary disc which is immediately enthralling. Reviewed on BBC Radio 3 Record Review, the disc was described as “impeccable… so, so well-conceived” and Jeremy Summerly, the guest-reviewer, commented on the choir’s “phenomenal sound”.
Other notable recordings include Veljo Tormis (Hyperion); The Tavener Collection (Decca) – which followed the critically acclaimed performances of which the Times commented “I don’t think I shall hear singing this year more thrilling”; Schnittke’s Choir Concerto (Hyperion); Ikon – including music by Pärt, Sviridov, Gorecki and Tchaikovsky; Grechaninov’s Vespers; and Over Hill, Over Dale – Vaughan Williams’ settings of Shakespeare songs and English folk songs (all Hyperion).
Concert highlights of the last two years include Arvo Pärt’s Litany with the Hilliard Ensemble at Southwark Cathedral in March 2014; a concert celebrating the music of John Tavener at Christ Church Spitalfields in April 2014; annual concerts at The Temple Church, London: ‘Radiant Light: Sacred Music from Eastern Europe and Russia’ (May 2014) and Frank Martin’s Mass for double choir (March 2015); Handel’s Israel in Egypt (June 2014) and Joshua (June 2015), the first two in the Handel Oratorio Series at St John’s Smith Square, London; and sell-out performances of Rachmaninoff’s All-night vigil (‘Vespers’) in London and Oxford. Recent touring has included Santiago de Compostela with the Hilliard Ensemble in Easter 2011, Northern Ireland in October 2013, and Trondeim for the Scandinavian Premiere of John Tavener’s The Veil of the Temple at Nidaros Cathedral in August 2015.